The Center for Responsive Politics is out with what I assume are final numbers on spending in the 2014 election, and it's some eye-popping stuff. The headline is that the North Carolina Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis did indeed turn out to be the most expensive in history, with an amazing $116 million spent overall, $84 million of which was from outside sources. This tops the previous record-holder, Hillary Clinton's 2000 race, in which $70 million (or $97 million in today's money) was spent.
Let's take a look at the top ten:
There was $709 million spent on these ten races. You'll also notice that Republicans won seven, Democrats won two (New Hampshire and Michigan), and there's one (Louisiana) to be decided in a runoff. Much of that money went down the toilet via television ads, but if you're a Democrat you're hoping that at least some of it went into building an infrastructure that could form the basis of future campaigns.
And what about the House? Here are the top races there:
Spending $20 million on a House race is actually much crazier than $114 million on a Senate race. That race in California's 7th district hasn't actually been decided yet—as of this morning, Republican challenger Doug Ose leads incumbent Rep. Ami Bera by 530 votes, with 33,000 left to count. But there were about 185,000 votes cast in that race, which means that over $110 was spent for every vote. In North Carolina, on the other hand, nearly 2.9 million votes were cast, so a mere $40.49 was spent per vote.
Incidentally, number 2 on the House list is the race of one John Boehner, whose opponent spent less than $100,000. I don't know quite how Boehner managed to spend $16.5 million, though his FEC reports show lots and lots of payments to media and direct mail companies. If you're a political consultant, that's your dream client: one with almost unlimited money who is all but guaranteed not to lose.
Anyhow, these numbers truly show the glory and majesty of the democratic process, don't they?